Poems that Shaped . . . Carmody

Artists are inspired by a variety of mediums and for our favourite wordsmith Carmody, poetry has always been a big influence. Here are 5 poems that have helped to shape her into the wonderful artist she is today.


1) Kim Addonizio - 'For Desire'
You may have noticed that I totally stole the title of this poem for one of my songs, pretty cheeky, but I was so mesmerised by this poem when I came across it, she just feels everything so completely, it was very inspiring. Sometimes I feel like song writers, myself included, aren't as candid as they should be in their songs, but this feels so raw and wild, as a writer Addonizio has really encouraged me to try and be more honest and visceral in my writing.

Give me the strongest cheese, the one that stinks best;
And I want the good wine, the swirl in crystal
Surrendering the bruised scent of blackberries
Or cherries, the rich spurt in the back
Of the throat, the holding it there before swallowing
Give me the lover who yanks open the door
Of his house and presses me to the wall
In the dim hallway, and keeps me there until I'm drenched
And shaking, whose kisses arrive by the boatload
And begin their delicious diaspora
Through the cities and small towns of my body
To hell with the saints, with martyrs
Of my childhood meant to instruct me
In the power of endurance and faith
To hell with the next world and its pallid angels
Swooning and sighing like Victorian girls
I want this world. I want to walk into
The ocean and feel it trying to drag me along
Like I'm nothing but a broken bit of scratched glass
And I want to resist it. I want to go
Staggering and flailing my way
Through the bars and back rooms
Through the gleaming hotels and weedy
Lots of abandoned sunflowers and the parks
Where dogs are let off their leashes
In spite of the signs, where they sniff each
Other and roll together in the grass, I want to
Lie down somewhere and suffer for love until
It nearly kills me, and then I want to get up again
And put on that little black dress and wait
For you, yes you, to come over here
And get down on your knees and tell me
Just how fucking good I look.



2) Leonard Cohen - 'Nightingale'
As well as being one of his tunes Cohen has these lyrics in his 'Book of Longing', which is a really stunning collection of songs and poems. He has always influenced my work, like Addonizio his writing also feels very raw and emotive. The last few lines of this poem always crush me, especially now he's not around. I really hope that one day I'll be able to release a collection of poems and songs, hopefully with some drawings by my friend Alicia Mitchell, who did the artwork for my last few singles.

I built my house beside the wood
So I could hear you singing
And it was sweet and it was good
And love was all beginning
Fare thee well my nightingale
'Twas long ago I found you
Now all your songs of beauty fail
The forest closes 'round you
The sun goes down behind a veil
'Tis now that you would call me
So rest in peace my nightingale
Beneath your branch of holly
Fare thee well my nightingale
I lived but to be near you
Tho' you are singing somewhere still
I can no longer hear you



3) Tyler Knott Gregson - 'Chasers of the Light'
This poem doesn't have a title, but is from a book I have called 'Chasers of the Light'. This short poem really inspired me because it sums up what a number of my songs are about - trying to write the person out of you through music, always trying to find a way to sing about how it feels to not have them in your life, or say their name anymore.

I am haunted
by the things I miss
and the times my name
doesn't fill your mouth.

I need a word
for the way that feels,
for all the combinations
of all the letters,
don't seem to say it
properly.



4) Pablo Neruda - 'If You Forget Me'
When Tom and I were writing Out to Sea he had one of Pablo Neruda's poetry books in his room and when we were lost for ideas, sometimes Neruda's poetry would help to inspire us. They are beautiful poems about loss and memory, which are themes that Out to Sea is shaped by too. I particularly remember 'If You Forget Me'.

I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.



5) Jeanette Winterson - 'How Do you Fall in Love'
Technically this isn't a poem, I think someone just asked Jeanette Winterson 'How do you fall in love?' Imagine giving this answer if someone asked you, it's stuck with me and influences my more romantic tunes, as it encapsulates the fear in the falling, as well as the joy and I guess that's what I've always tried to do in my songs.

“You don't fall in love like you fall in a hole. You fall like falling through space. It’s like you jump off your own private planet to visit someone else’s planet. And when you get there it all looks different: the flowers, the animals, the colours people wear. It is a big surprise falling in love because you thought you had everything just right on your own planet, and that was true, in a way, but then somebody signalled to you across space and the only way you could visit was to take a giant jump. Away you go, falling into someone else’s orbit and after a while you might decide to pull your two planets together and call it home. And you can bring your dog. Or your cat. Your goldfish, hamster, collection of stones, all your odd socks. (The ones you lost, including the holes, are on the new planet you found.)

And you can bring your friends to visit. And read your favourite stories to each other. And the falling was really the big jump that you had to make to be with someone you don’t want to be without. That’s it.

PS You have to be brave.”

Listen to the beautiful lyrics that were influenced by these poems below.

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